Last month, when Tee and I boarded our plane from Kuala Lumpur to Kathmandu we were surprised to see that 95% of the plane was filled with Nepali men. Once we arrived in Nepal we realized that we were arriving just before the longest Nepali festival, Dashain, and that men were flying in from the Malaysia, the Middle East, and beyond to celebrate with their families.
Dashain, Nepal’s longest festival, celebrates the victory of good over evil. During the main Dashain festivities we were invited to the (temporary) home of one of our beneficiaries to share a meal that included traditional goat meat. We were also blessed with tikka by the host’s mother and encouraged to drink cup after cup of rakshi, the local alcohol distilled from millet or rice, before the dancing began. It was quite the afternoon. The hotel also butchered a buffalo (in the driveway) and served us the most protein packed meal we will likely ever see here that featured bbq’d buffalo roast, curried buffalo, and cooked buffalo blood.
Between Dashain and Tihar we had a little Halloween celebration on base filled with pumpkin carving, free box costumes, and face painting.
Next came Tihar. Tihar is the festival of lights, “The five-day festival is considered to be of great importance as it shows reverence to not just the humans and the Gods, but also to the animals like crows, cows and dogs who maintain an intense relationship with humans.” The buildings in town were dripping with lights and marigold garlands, and rangolis were painted on the streets in front of homes and businesses. Alisha, one All Hands national staff, created huge rangolis around the hotel and we added in some face painting and hula hooping to the festivities. One night children came door to door singing Tihar songs and another night we ran into an energetic band playing in town, I recognized several of the band members from the school we had worked at that week.
We have continued the Melamchi Saturday feast tradition with fresh chicken curries and soups, amazing coleslaws, and apples pie samosas.
We just returned from a week of working on the mobile teams… more on that soon, if the wifi cooperates.